Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Best Amigurumi Tips and Tricks!



I have fallen head over heels in love with amigurumi! I am entirely self taught when it comes to crochet (with help from youtube and blogs, of course!) and my first amigurumi projects turned out... interesting. Big gaps, floppy, misshapen heads... Not to mention that I didn't know where to get half the stuff that the pattern called for. And I had a hard time tracking it down! It took a lot of Google and Pinterest, but I finally figured it out. I remember wishing that someone would just have it all in one place. Well my friends, that is what I am doing today! Some of these things seemed to be common knowledge in the crochet world so it is very basic but, I hope, helpful!
(This post contains affiliate links. I get a small percentage if you buy from my link-but I ONLY recommend things I have personally used and loved!)

1. Use those stitch markers!!
Using a stitch marker is not a guideline or suggestion- It is a rule!! Follow it religiously! In amigurumi you stitch in the round, like a spiral, so its hard to keep track of where you begin and end. When you are increasing and decreasing, especially, you want to know where to stop. Put the stitch marker in the first stitch of the row. Crochet around, following your pattern. The last stitch of the row will be the stitch before the marker. To begin the new round take the stitch marker out, stitch, and replace immediately after. Then continue around!
These are my favorite markers and have lasted me forever!

2. Use the right hook!
Because amigurumi is made from the smallest stitch (the single crochet!) and small size hooks, so it is tempting to use a larger hook to get things moving! But resist! If you don't use the right hook, your fabric will look gappy, and the stuffing will show through. Not what you want!
These are my absolute favorite hooks! I hate using anything else.

3. Pick a way to crochet and stick with it!
Because there are usually a lot of parts to an amigurumi project, there are a lot of opportunities to get something wrong. Don't be discouraged! It helps to be consistent with how tight you stitch, how your hold your yarn etc. This is true for every crochet project, but can be really noticeable with amigurumi! One of my first projects had a much larger arm, even though I triple checked and the pattern was correct. I just got better at it so my second arm was much more tight and even. It also helps to crochet everything that is a multiple (two legs, two arms, etc.) at the same time. They are more likely to be the same!

4. Stuff Wisely!
You will want to use polyfil to stuff your amigurumi. It is sold in a bag at most crafting stores... I usually get mine at Walmart. Stuff as you go, especially small parts like arms or legs. It will take more stuffing than you think! But go slowly with small bunches. If you try to cram too much in then it will get lumpy! But don't understuff! As time goes on it will "deflate" a little, especially if it is played with! So I like to stuff until I have very little "give." I generally use a chop stick to tamp it down, but the end of a hook works too!

5. Use safety eyes!

This was one thing that I was very confused about. I had no idea where to find them! Turns out they are sold at most craft stores, although I find the best selection on Amazon and Etsy.




They come in different sizes and colors. The eye is attached to a screw like thing that you will poke through the stitches and then there is a washer that you will place on the back.
 Poke through the stitch.
 Attach plastic washer
 This is what the back looks like!
and the front!

They are called safety eyes because once you place the washer on the back you cannot take them out so they are safe to play with! So you need to be ABSOLUTELY sure you like where they are before you stick that washer on! It helps to use the rows and count stitches so they are placed exactly where you like. Also, make sure you remember to place the eyes (and nose if you are using one!) before you close! (This has happened to me- oops!)

6. Careful when sewing!
Sewing the parts together is my least favorite thing. I have picked up some tips and tricks that make it better however!
First, when you cut the yarn of the finished piece, leave a long tail. Use this to sew on to the other parts.
Second, use the lines of the piece. When you attach an arm, make sure it lies straight across the line of stitches! You don't want to sew it all the way on and realize it is crooked! And use the same line for the other arm. Do a lot of counting and double checking before you sew. You will thank me later!
Third, use some kind of pin to keep it in place! I use normal sewing pins.
 Just stick them down in there!

Then sew in every stitch around. I usually go around it twice (or more for big pieces like the head!). Take out the pins as you go. It also really helps to see the final product and move things around if you feel like before you have secured them. 
Fourth, weave the remaining yarn through stitches as a way to fasten it off. Do it in a less visible place like under the arm, or back of the neck. I go back and forth, up and down and diagonal. Don't pull too tight or you will bunch up the fabric and it will not look very good! Try to keep it neat and don't cover too much distance when you are going in- you will leave long stitches on the outside if you do!
7. How to add eyelashes
Always sew the eyelashes on before you stuff- this gives you more room to work!I use embroidery thread to sew on eyelashes. I rarely split the threads because my projects are usually fairly large. For smaller projects it might be better to split the thread. And I can get away with using my yarn needle to sew them on, since that is what I always have handy! First place the safety eyes but don't put on the back!! Try to get under the edges of the eye to make sure there is no gap between the thread and the eye. I make an effort to sew each lash into the same hole under the eye to keep them uniform. Tie it in the back and do the other eye!

8. Adding Blush
This may be one of the silliest but most helpful tips I have found! I love how fun and girly a little blush gives a project! I had tried a crayon before and while that does work, I could never get it dark enough without making the yarn fuzzy and worn. So I use just a light coating of cheap blush from the dollar store! 



9. Use an invisible decrease
When you are decreasing, instead of using a regular decrease, try the invisible decrease. It is not much different than a regular decrease. You only put the hook through the first loop (the one that is visible from the front) rather than the entire stitch. So, hook through first loop on the first stitch, then through the first loop on the second. Pull yarn though.

There you go! Hopefully now your first attempts at amigurumi come off better than mine! And if you are looking for a great pattern try out my crochet octopus or teddy bear! Both are very beginner friendly!